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Google Fixes Security Flaws in Search Toolbar

 2:53 pm on Aug 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

Browser add-on contained holes that could have allowed an attacker to execute scripts on affected PCs.

pcworld [pcworld.com]



 3:06 pm on Aug 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

How do you know which toolbar version your on?


 3:08 pm on Aug 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

google logo > About Google Toolbar


 3:13 pm on Aug 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

It updates itself then!....wonder what they will find next.


 3:17 pm on Aug 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

1. Click on the "Google" logo on the toolbar.
2. Click "About Google Toolbar..."
3. Dig that 16th century Latin.

De parvis grandis a cervus erit.

TRANSLATED: Small things will make a large pile


 4:45 pm on Aug 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

How do you know which toolbar version your on?
How do you know someone didn't read the article? :)

 5:05 pm on Aug 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

> The flaws were all patched by Google's automatic update to the toolbar

It updates itself without asking me!

I have had this paranoid feeling about the toolbar since I noticed different SERP on my PC with the toolbar to my PC without the toolbar. The toolbar is potentially the best anti SEO system around. What percentage of SEOs use the toolbar? My guess is 99%. How easy would it be for the toolbar to detect SEO activity on a computer and update itself to a special version for SEO e.g. to phone home a list of sites that need a special check, or to supply odd SERP?


 5:13 pm on Aug 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

I was shocked to see it auto updates itself as well.

It is in the privacy statement (http://toolbar.google.com/privacy.html) under More Information.

As someone suffering through missing PR purgatory I didn't like seeing this.

I like the tool, but I also like being told when things are updating and having an option to upgrade. Google rocks, but I don't want it to be pervasive.


 8:12 pm on Aug 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

I'm disappointed more then I can say.

It's very rare, that I install new software on my machine. I trusted Google and now I see that the toolbar has updated itself without a notice. I feel tricked, no matter what their TOS say. I installed a software to add a Google-search to my navi. I didn't expect new software to appear on my machine every now and then.

I always considered Google a cool company. Something like "some guys like us, who are successfull because they do cool things".

Looks like these days are over now.

This is not a joke. I feel really sad. Somewhere I read a statement from Google saying something like "You can do big business without a tie". I always interpreted this like "You can do big business without selling your soul, without cheating people, without loosing focus on the users demands. You can do big business based on the right vision and high quality systems that speak for themself". I think Googles success-story so far has proved this. I can't understand why they did this toolbar thing.

Was it considered too much work to write the three lines of code that come up with a simple messagebox "New version of the toolbar available. Install yes/no") ? No. It was left out intentionally to hide what's going on on my machine.


 8:59 pm on Aug 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

They don't ask because you might say no.

Then they'd have to keep old PageRank checksum algos working, which means if someone cracks the algo then their cracker software keeps working too.

It's a power thing. Google has the power, and you don't. Google likes it this way, and intends to keep the power.

Don't kid yourself, they all wear ties. People who don't wear ties don't send everyone a 36-year cookie.

Someday dissertations will be written on Google's public relations revolution. You can fool all of the people all of the time.


 9:29 pm on Aug 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

I love Google, I love the Toolbar, it is in fact quite convienient that it updates itself automaticaly, now I don't have to go running off and download stuff, then tell all my clients who use the toolbar to update. Kinda wish I'd known, but I don't think I read the "This isn't the usual yadda yadda" very carefully...

Now, please please a google toolbar for mozilla, or a google skin for Mozilla based on the pinball theme, with the toolbar in place. That would be great!


 12:34 am on Aug 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

electro: try doing a search for google mozilla toolbar. There's some great stuff, e.g.
about adding a toolbar-like device to Mozilla. It can do basically everything except show PageRank.

Everyman, I'm wearing a T-shirt and sandals right now. When we see people wearing ties around here, we know that they must be interviewing for a job or visiting Google on business. :) However, I admit that I normally wear sneakers instead of sandals, so you caught me on an informal day.


 12:52 am on Aug 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

Yobb, I didn't realize a tie was such a horrible thing.

I am slighly disappointed about Google not doing a yes/no popup or something before the update. They could just indicate "update or you are not supported any more"... But... My vision of Google staff is a bunch of techies actually making it in business. I do not believe they do things (such as PR penalty, auto-update, etc) to show they are in power. I believe most of these are technical errors, or research mistakes.

Maybe a Board of Advisors is in order...


 5:00 am on Aug 9, 2002 (gmt 0)


Flex some of that Google Power and Creative leadership into a OS X tool bar.



 5:59 am on Aug 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

It would be nice if there was some notice that Google accessed my computer to update itself.

Toolbar deinstalled.


 6:24 am on Aug 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

um they did,

"Periodically, the Google Toolbar contacts our servers to see if you are running the most current version. If necessary, we will automatically provide you with the latest update to the Google Toolbar."

Wayback link [web.archive.org]


 6:29 am on Aug 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think Brett means something along the lines of

"Google has detected a updated version of your Toolbar is available. Would you like to update? Y/N"

I agree it would be common courtesy. Every other program I have that looks for updates uses this methodology. Perhaps this is an opportunity for Google to improve their toolbar service.



 9:35 am on Aug 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

GoogleGuy - thanks for pointing out the Mozilla Google toolbar, great! Only problem is, the PageRank was the 'killer app' for the google toolbar, would it be possable in the future to have this feature?


 8:32 pm on Aug 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

I am still running 1.1.58 and on a network connection...wierd....


 10:23 pm on Aug 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

Just uninstalled mine.

Won't be putting it back either, even M$ ask you if you *want* to update products.



 10:40 pm on Aug 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

Can someone explain how google uses the toolbar information to defeat SEOs? I only promote my own site and do not engage in any questionable activities(that I know of). I think it is a useful tool but now I am afraid that I may be shooting myself in the foot.


 4:22 am on Aug 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

But wasn't the update to fix a possibly dangerous security hole? I know a number of people who use the toolbar and none of them follow tech news or boards like this one. I'm pretty sure many of them won't yet know about this security issue and therefore either not known to install an update if it was left up to them or chosen "no" if given the choice, thus leaving themselves open to attack. (for some reason lots of my less-tech-savvy friends hate updating anything when given the choice)

I'm not thrilled with stuff installing on my system but when it's a fairly urgent security issue I'd rather have it installed than be left vulnerable.

That said, the best option may have been a message telling me it was installing and making the consequences of not doing so very clear, rather than either a yes/no choice or no choice at all.



 9:44 pm on Aug 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Can someone explain how google uses the toolbar information to defeat SEOs?

Don't know if they use it to defeat SEO's, but as a general rule, the only people who are really interested in the pagerank part of the toolbar are those involved with SEO.


 1:43 am on Aug 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

graywolf: If your toolbar still claims to be 1.1.58, try closing all your browser windows, then opening up IE again. The next time you check the version it should report 1.1.60.

The auto-update aspect of the toolbar is mentioned in our FAQ, but please uninstall the toolbar if that makes you uncomfortable. The toolbar is there as an optional power-searching tool, but we want people to be fully informed if they decide to install it.


 3:08 pm on Aug 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

Personally, who gives a rip about them doing this? I think its kinda nice they can do it without an annoying question of whether or not I want too, and then 10 minutes later I have my new version.

After all....don't they still return the best search results? If this is any part of the reason, lets quit complaining. Besides, this is not new information on this forum!

Google is good for the world:

Seo's - because it does take work getting to the top. It's not some magic prayer like the old days, its billable hours :)

Searchers - you get what you are looking for, not some jones's who have snagged every keyword you may ever search for.


 10:46 am on Aug 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

First let me say that I think Google is the best SE in the world, good for searchers, good for webmasters. This means it is important to get a good listing in Google.

If you're launching a site for a widget company they need some healthy enquiries through the site - the simple truth we are all aware of is that the site will do well if it is on the front page of the SERP for queries about widgets. There are many approaches to this goal e.g.:

- Tricks e.g. Cloaking, spamming, hidden junk...
- Specific quality content and links...
- Just do what the widget company ask for.

Each of the above will get a different result. I NEVER try to trick Google, its not worth it, a penalty or ban is worse than death. There was something on Google about 'not doing anything to your website to artificially improve your position' (can't find that bit of info now, anyone else know where it is? Has it gone?). I hate spammy sites. I think my sites are not spammy, I think they are carefully created to be on target. But perhaps Google would consider one or two of my sites to be spammy? Where is the dividing line between spam and specific content? The dividing line is where the Google algo currently puts it - and we can only guess at that! On some sites I wonder if I've gone too far. I don't know. I don't consider myself to be as good as some of the real experts on WebmasterWorld. People like me are always checking the toolbar for positions of their sites. 'IF' Google thinks my kind of site is spam then Google may want to put those sites through an extra algo to check for SEO activity (or just my paranoia!).

I have had this paranoid feeling about the toolbar since I noticed different SERP on my PC-with-the-toolbar to my PC-without-the-toolbar. The toolbar is POTENTIALLY (not known to be) the best anti SEO system around. What percentage of SEOs use the toolbar? My guess is 99%. How easy would it be for the toolbar to detect SEO activity on a computer and update itself to a special version for SEO e.g. to phone home a list of sites that need a special check e.g. to put through an SEO checking algo, or to supply odd SERP?


 1:05 pm on Aug 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

Googeguy I have closed all of my windows, and that didn't help. I have also shut down and completely rebooted twice and still have 1.1.58. I suspect it may be some isssue with our firewall blocking the update. Should I uninstall and then re-install?


 4:11 am on Aug 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

Yup, give that a try.


 12:19 pm on Aug 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Just some links I came across on bugtraq with suplementary info

Alexa v6.5.11775 from

Ask Jeeves dated 18-Jul-2002 from

You can read about the vulnerability in detail at

and you can also test the toolbars above (or any other toolbar) using the first demonstration in that URL.


 6:47 pm on Aug 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

See http://sec.greymagic.com/adv/gm001-mc/ [sec.greymagic.com]

I just came across this in the MarketPositionTalk forum (and couldn't find any mention of it here at WebmasterWorld). I haven't looked into this issue in depth, but it seems like a legitimate concern.

What do you think?

This 34 message thread spans 2 pages: 34 ( [1] 2 > >
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